Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Denney Bill Would Tweak School Grading System in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Denney Bill Would Tweak School Grading System in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

A bill that would change the state's controversial A through F grading system cleared the House of Representatives this week but at least one school administrator said the measure doesn't go far enough.

House Bill 1658 would alter the way school grades are calculated. Under the measure a school's reading and mathematics tests of the lowest 25th percentile of students would be counted once among the entire school's improvement if the measure becomes law. State Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, said the bill would reduce the number of times a low-performing student's test scores were used in formulating a school's grade. Right now, she said, the lowest- performing students' scores were counted three times, which decreases a school's overall score.

"We raised the end number from 15 to 30; that makes the population being graded a little bit larger," Denney said. "And the lower 25th percentile, we quit counting them three times."

Denney said she never meant for the ranking system to be punitive to school districts.

"If the school got a D or an F, I hope it's just a wake-up call and they are implementing things this year where they are going to be a C or better," she said.

Though Denney's changes to the bill were welcomed, one school administrator said the A-F ranking system was fatally flawed and urged lawmakers to start over and develop a new system.

"I appreciate the work Rep. Denney is doing," said Norman School Superintendent Joe Siano. "The rankings on the lowest quartile was one of the concerns administrators voiced early on. But this A-F ranking system is not one that can be tweaked."

The state's current ranking system, Siano said, doesn't have a solid statistical foundation.

"If we want an accurate system, and we need a system to evaluate schools, we need to start over and build one with that in mind," he said.

Siano pointed to a joint study by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University that said the state's effort to evaluate public schools falls short of providing a clear and creditable picture of individual school performance. …

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